Tony Stewart has a reputation as someone who says what’s on his mind. This week, the three-time NASCAR Cup Series champion did just that during an interview in which he talked about the Stewart-Haas Racing team’s struggles in 2021, what he’s doing to try to fix it, and what he thinks of other teams in similar situations who get complacent about it.
Tony Stewart has watched Stewart-Haas Racing struggle in 2021
There’s no way around it. The Stewart-Haas Racing team hasn’t performed up to standards this year. And team owner Tony Stewart will be the first one to admit it.
Kevin Harvick, who won the regular-season title in 2020 with an impressive nine victories, has yet to record a single win this year. The 2014 Cup Series champion sits 10th in the current standings. For some perspective, Harvick last finished outside the top 10 in a season back in 2009. He’s finished fifth or better since 2017.
Unfortunately for the SHR organization, Harvick isn’t alone. In the current standings, Aric Almirola sits 23rd, Chase Briscoe 24th, and Cole Custer 28th. Harvick, Almirola, Custer, and Clint Bowyer all qualified for the playoffs last season.
Tony Stewart calls out certain NASCAR teams
Tony Stewart knows NASCAR as a driver and an owner. He recognizes that each Sunday, there will be just one winner and 39 losers. And it’s that perspective that allows him to see the bigger picture and understand that success for individual drivers and teams comes in cycles.
During an interview with Fox’s Bob Pockrass, Tony Stewart candidly admitted just because you understand that the margins between winning and losing are so small, it doesn’t make it any easier when you come up short on a consistent basis as the team has this year.
“It always sucks,” Stewart said bluntly. “Everything comes in waves and cycles. … It doesn’t make you feel any better knowing you’re in a wave like that.
“We’re all competitive, and we all want to be on top of our game all the time. The ones that are complacent and are OK knowing that it is just a wave, those are the teams that we’ll kick their ass every week.”
Aric Almirola earns team’s first win
Despite the overall lackluster performance from the Stewart-Haas Racing team this season, Aric Almirola finally broke through in New Hampshire before the two-week Olympic break and secured a spot in the playoffs.
While that win was certainly a positive, Stewart said it’s hard to read too much into it considering the circumstances.
“I’m not sure if there was anything in particular necessarily that was there – they just hit the setup that day,” Stewart said. “The hard part with no practice, it is a roll of the dice to try to get that. Hopefully, that was something we can use for all four cars on the flatter tracks. … Those are places that we have really struggled.”
With four weeks left until the playoffs, Almirola is the only Stewart-Haas driver assured of making the postseason. Harvick is in a solid position on points, but Custer and Briscoe are in must-win situations.
What happens in the next four weeks is anyone’s guess. One thing is certain: Tony Stewart will be there each step of the way, providing his team with his wisdom and support and making sure no one is complacent.